As the game clock hits 00:00 and I make the dreaded losers walk back to my car, one that I know so well, it hits me. Sure we lost the game, but I feel like that loss was more impressive than any win we enjoyed last year.
Were there negatives? Sure, but I'm not here to talk about that.
So for the positives, let's start in the most obvious of area. Blake Bortles. Blake did everything that we've been asking of our soon to be super star. We saw it all from diagnosing and communicating the blitz at the line of scrimmage to going through his reads and hitting the open receiver. He threw an interception, one that I won't fully blame on him as Marqise Lee played a quick game of volleyball by himself before the Packers DB picked it off, but other than that, there was no other signs of doom from Blake.
Julius Thomas also had a phenomenal game. You may have seen earlier on Twitter where I said his TD was shades of Manning to Thomas in Denver, and it was. Single coverage outside and it's a simple game of pitch and catch. Blake throws a dime, and Julius snags it for six. It's something we didn't see much of last year. New team, new offense, or the injury, whatever the reason, Blake and Julius looked like they were on the same page. More of that please.
The defesnsive backs played a great game as a unit. Lead by our rookie 'Captain Swagger', and I mean Jalen Ramsey, they played a hell of a game. Ramsey didn't allow a completion (I WROTE THAT!) and Prince Amukamara was everything we thought he'd be and more. Gipson was good and played centerfield like something we haven't seen for almost ever. Gratz played here and there while others were getting retaped and he even played well. Very well, at that. I know it's popular to beat on Cyp but overall I thought he had a good game. Yes he missed a tackle and allowed a Richard Rodgers reception for a first down, but let's face it. He got hosed on that defensive pass interference call, and it appears he's a better player with a true Free Safety over the top like we always thought he'd be. Davon House was Davon House. Didn't make any wow plays and was unfortunately on the bad end of that amazing play from Rodgers, but he wasn't bad by any means. The DB's are a strong point on this team. It's good to see. It makes me happy to think about where they could be later in the year and how much better overall they may be when Aaron Colvin is thrown back into the mix.
Pressure was almost non existent, and I hope it gets better as the year goes on, but there were a few bright spots. Fowler started to get some good push with the bull rush and we'll see if that leads to an evolution of anything else. Fowler did a great job setting the edge in run game which is a huge area of importance and its vital that the LEO can do that. I'd personally love to see Fowler stand up and change his point of attack on obvious passing downs, but until then, that was his first ever game in the NFL. Could have been worse. Yannick Ngakoue grew into the game and made some impact in regards to having Rodgers feel his presence. He never got home, but I noticed him. Gus mentioned today in his presser that they game planned to 'mush rush' which in turn means, the ends were more focused on containing Rodgers and keeping him in the pocket than they were focusing on actually getting sacks. Rodgers was limited in using his legs so it's fair to say they did a good job.
The interior defensive line did great against the run. Roy Miller and Jared Odrick specifically played out of their mind. I think Lacy had just north of 60 yards rushing and minus one bigger run in the second half, he had no room. They didn't get much push when the Packers were throwing the ball, but they weren't bad either. When the intiror defensive line plays like they did yesterday, it makes the day for our linebackers so much easier. The hogmollies up front allowed for Telvin to use his speed and shoot gaps to clean plays up at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Special Teams was fantastic. All around. A+. Our new Punter, Brad Nortman punted the ball just twice but managed to pin Rodgers and that prolific offense inside the 5 both times. What more can you ask for? And Jason Myers. Jason. Myers. was dare I say, "automatic" yesterday. Myers hitting his FG's and PAT's and Nortman pinning the opposition deep was just as important of a factor as anything we did.
So again, yes, we lost. We are 0-1, but in a season that could bue compared to as a marathon, yesterday was just a cramp. We're fine. The arrow is most definitely pointing up. Gus Bradley had our guys ready. We went toe to toe with a league power. I think our Jaguars are almost back.